Qubic Games interview: AiRace and a lot more
We had the opportunity to score an interview with Qubic Games, the Polish developer responsible for the AiRace series on 3DS. We reviewed the last entry just a while ago, and we talked about that and a lot more with the team’s Public Relations Manager, Mikael Bourget.
AiRace: Tunnel had a very futuristic look and feel, but the sequel, AiRace, was more conventional in design. The levels looked more open and realistic, and some vehicles looked like normal airplanes. Why have you gone back to a more futuristic look and feel for AiRace: Speed?
It is important to say that AiRace: Tunnel was originally created as a bonus mode to AiRace. We wanted to give a solo challenge with a good sense of speed. That’s how the ideas of tunnels came to life. And we figured out that a futuristic environment fitted the game concept well.
In the last moment we finally decided to divide the games into two separate products, AiRace and AiRace: Tunnel.
And the result is that AiRace: Tunnel found a big success on its own. It provided players with a fun and interesting gameplay experience.
So we thought that we should push this concept in a bigger and better looking game. That’s how the AiRace Speed project for 3DS started.
AiRace: Speed’s levels seem to combine the tricky maneuvering and tight areas of AiRace: Tunnel with some of the more open areas brought with AiRace, is it fair to say that AiRace: Speed is the best parts of both games?
I would rather say that the core concept of AiRace Speed originates from AiRace: Tunnel but that the game has extended in a lot of directions, with influences from our experience of creating AiRace. That makes AiRace Speed a bigger game than the two others, but in a unique way. For example AiRace Speed took around 10 months whereas AiRace and AiRace: Tunnel required in total together 8 months of development.
Like in AiRace, the levels are created from scratch and therefore offer diversity and surprises. However, like in AiRace: Tunnel, part of the gameplay is about dodging obstacles.
But in AiRace Speed you have a full control over your jet: you can use the nitro and the brake at any time. This gives many possibilities to improve your skills and your scores. And it gives a big value to the online ranking leaderboards that allow players to compete against fellow pilots around the world on every level.
The graphics in AiRace Speed look great. How was it developing for the 3DS instead of the DSi?
On Nintendo 3DS the developers and designers have much wider possibilities because the console is more powerful than the DSi.
On 3DS we improved the graphics and created complex and detailed levels using many more polygons and bigger textures. The lighting of the environment also looks more realistic with subtle nuances. Thanks to that the stages of AiRace Speed look fantastic and propose intelligent and interesting opportunities for the gameplay.
Aside from graphics, one benefit of developing for the 3DS is the 3D capable top-screen. Do you think that playing in 3D is more immersive for the player? Are there any other benefits to playing in 3D?
Yes, playing with the 3D on is definitely more immersive to the player. Besides from this benefit, it can also help visualize accurately the distances from elements and take safer trajectories.
Combined with the high-quality graphics, the 3D effects of AiRace Speed must put the players in the middle of the action. For us it was a really crucial point because we believe that the visual experience is extremely important for this game. Visually and with the 3D on, the game delivers adrenaline and sets the best conditions for the players to enjoy flying their jets with tight controls.
A good 3D effect must be in the same time strong and clear. It must be impressive but not disturbing. It isn’t an easy thing to implement. And for each game it needs to be thought in a relevant way. We’ve already used the 3D effect for our game 2 Fast 4 Gnomz. But using it for AiRace Speed it is a completely new challenge. It is necessary to have an extremely clear display of the environment when flying at very high speeds inside tunnels. While it must be immersive, it must also let the player be able to entirely focus on his attempt of flying as fast as possible.
To reach that, one of the difficult things was to properly balance the contrasts and the colors in the levels.
If you wish to know more about the development of the game, we invite you to read the “Behind the Scenes” articles posted on the AiRace Speed website: http://www.airacespeed.com/
When developing the AiRace series, what other games would you say have influenced you? Some people make comparisons between AiRace and games like Wipeout or F-Zero, is it fair to say that these games are influences?
To make the games we looked at what was made in the racing field in general. We were influenced by the game Plane Crazy. Also, Wipeout and F-Zero are classics and we took the sense of speed from them.
Otherwise I couldn’t really say that one game in particular served as inspiration. We’ve made research.
First we decided on the base mechanics, such as planes, race or speed. And then I think that the persons at QubicGames who have the biggest impact on developing the root ideas are our designers. They are the best to come up with interesting concepts which have their own unique style.
Thus far, the series has only been on Nintendo handhelds, is there a particular reason for developing for these systems instead of other platforms, like PC or home consoles? Are you interested in developing for next generation consoles like PlayStation 4, Xbox One and WiiU?
We kept developing for Nintendo systems after having successfully developed for Nintendo DSi. For three main reasons: our team got experience in this, we created a good relationship with Nintendo and we like Nintendo consoles and the digital distribution platforms.
But we are interested in other platforms too, and we created games for iOS. We are also official developers for Playstation Vita. But we haven’t released anything on it yet, neither did we on PC. However regarding home console, we made 2 games for Wii: Gnomz and 2 Fast 4 Gnomz.
Now it’s hard to talk about the next generation (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) because we still need to really witness what will happen. Now there is a lot of talking but it’s too early to give opinions. We are of course very impatient to discover these systems and we believe that the policy towards indie developers will be beneficial for both sides. We don’t know yet if we will work on them but it is in the realm of the possible.
Regarding Wii U, we are already authorized developers for it. We have the devkits and we currently prepare our own game engine C-Way to feature the proper technology to handle development on Wii U.
We do hope that we could release a game on Nintendo Wii U in the next 12 months.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in buying AiRace Speed, but has not played any other games in the series before?
I would tell this person that the game is already regarded by many critics as one of the best racing games on the 3DS, especially for its friendly price of $4,99 (or 4,99€ or £4,49). And I would give this small pitch:
AiRace Speed is a futuristic racing game providing a challenging and unique sense of speed and adrenaline. It is the third game of the successful and highly rated AiRace series.
It takes speed to a whole new level and provides a frantic gaming experience:
• Fly across 18 adrenaline-fueled tracks
• Take control of 5 high-tech jets
• Enjoy stunning graphics and immersive 3D effects
• Compete in online global leaderboards
• Try to unlock 42 special achievements
Thanks for your time!